The Roadmap to a Successful Mentoring Relationship
While working on a video project at AIHce EXP 2019, I had the opportunity to meet Chrissy Hoehn, an AIHA member since 2004, and Melanie Nembhard, a member since 2013. They are both part of the AIHA Mentoring Program: Chrissy serves as a mentor to Melanie. They kindly agreed to speak on camera about their experience in the program and what AIHA means to them. They also shared a few mentoring tips, which will be included in a video that AIHA will publish later this year. I won’t go into too many details (stay tuned for the video!), but seeing the two of them together made it clear that they have a great mentor-mentee relationship.
So, what makes a good mentor-mentee relationship? Just like any other relationship, mentoring is a two-way street; it takes work and commitment from both parties. A productive mentor-mentee relationship needs:
1. Open Communication
Open communication is key for any successful relationship. The same rule applies in mentoring. As a mentor, you should communicate your knowledge and expertise clearly so that your mentee can better understand and learn from you. As a mentee, you should be upfront with your mentor about what you hope to gain from the partnership. If you don’t communicate with your mentor, they can’t help you with that stressful situation at work or provide tips to prepare for the CIH prep exam.
Trust is a significant factor for both parties. If one person feels that they can’t share key information, the relationship isn’t going to work out. It takes trust for a mentor to say, “These are some of my professional failures, and this is how I overcame them.” A mentee needs to know that the relationship is built on trust and honesty; if a mentee doesn’t feel comfortable sharing their challenges, the mentor can’t offer any useful advice. Trust isn’t handed out like candy—it’s gained through honest engagement and commitment.
3. Staying in Touch
In this day and age, you can connect and stay connected in many different ways. It doesn’t have to be face-to-face, but it’s important that mentors and mentees connect with each other regularly. As a mentee, be proactive by asking questions and sending emails and follow-ups as appropriate. As a mentor, respond to communications and make time to talk with your mentee on a regular basis.
4. Defined Expectations
Both mentors and mentees should understand what they’re working toward and be able to give and take constructive feedback. As a mentee, this means setting goals and reviewing them with your mentor. As a mentor, this means helping your mentee set realistic expectations.
A little positivity goes a long way. As a mentee, appreciate the feedback that your mentor is offering you and don’t take it as criticism. As a mentor, appreciate the work that your mentee is doing and the progress they’re making.
Do you have other tips for developing a great mentoring relationship? Please share them with us on Catalyst (AIHA member login required). And if you are thinking about joining AIHA’s Mentoring Program, we encourage you to sign up today.